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ERN CT Testimony Before Planning and Development Committee

Testimony Before the Planning and Development Committee Committee

Amy Dowell, State Director

Education Reform Now CT

March 15, 2021

Re: H.B. 6107: An Act Concerning the Reorganization of the Zoning Enabling Act and the Promotion of Municipal Compliance

H.B. 6613: An Act Concerning Accessory Apartments, Middle Housing and Multifamily Housing

S.B. 1024: An Act Concerning Zoning Authority, Certain Design Guidelines, Qualifications of Certain Land Use Officials and Certain Sewage Disposal Systems

Chairs Cassano and McCarthy Vahey, Vice Chairs Needleman and Goupil, Ranking Members Hwang and Zullo, and Members of the Planning and Development Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify in support of H.B. 6107, H.B. 6613, and S.B. 1024. My name is Amy Dowell, and I am the State Director of Education Reform Now CT, an advocacy organization that supports educational equity.

While our organization is focused on setting high standards for every student and school, we cannot help but acknowledge the intersectional and explicit tie between housing and educational access. In fact, over the last two years, we have worked on the MORE Act legislation, which uses bonuses in school construction bonding as an incentive for inclusive municipalities that meaningfully increase their affordable housing units and update their zoning laws.

It is undeniable that resources can be vastly disparate from community to community when it comes to education. And we know that year after year, as many lament these circumstances, few meaningful changes have been made locally or on the state level to address these inequities. We debate, protest, and testify, but children bear the biggest burden from this lack of progress.

Every district in a wealthy and well-educated state like Connecticut should have the resources to provide reading specialists and robust English Language Learner supports. Every district should have a school social worker and a full library. Every district should offer music and afterschool enrichment. Every district should have soap in its bathrooms, working windows, and ventilation systems. And every district should be able to offer competitive salaries for teacher aides and special education interventionists.

That is not the ceiling, but the floor. When that floor is not met by a district, families should always have the agency to move to a community that does.

These bills allow the state to set the table for communities in Connecticut to offer more access and educational opportunities to families looking for high quality options. They also represent a moral standard, and cut through the red tape and hurdles put in place to keep communities economically and racially restricted, less financially sound and leaving our state in the past.

I urge you to support all families and students in Connecticut. Pass H.B. 6107, H.B. 6613, and S.B. 1024.


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